Audience-listening and audience-performing : a study of the effect of context on mental representation of music
This study is concerned with the effects of the context of musical experiences on the mental representation of music. The analysis is focused on the context of listening to recorded music in the classroom, with particular regard to strategies of listening through participation. Playing rhythms along with recorded music within an instrumental group (Audience-Performing) is therefore the main context of analysis, being developed in comparison to the context of listening in silence (Audience-Listening). Everyday situations give evidence of the power of context on the ways individuals think and mentally represent music. This acknowledgement of the contextual dependency of the mind and the apparent contextual weakness of audience-listening function as the background for the elaboration of the hypothesis that playing along with recorded music may enrich the learning context and affect mental representation in positive ways. The supporting theoretical framework is built in the light of connectionism. This theory from cognitive science allows a conception of mental schemata that preserve the links between object and context, and, thus, the meaningful mental coexistence of diverse types of information distributed through the brain. The contextual complexity of Audience-Performing is, in this sense, theoretically reinforced as an ecological enrichment with positive effects on both the acquisition and organisation of mental representation. The thesis is validated through an experiment, which compares a control condition of 125 children listening to a recorded piece of music with an experimental condition of 125 children playing rhythms along with the same recorded musical piece. After the treatment, both groups were tested on the identification of excerpts from the musical piece. As shown by the results of at-test used to compare the score means of both groups, the experimental group identified more excerpts with statistical significance. A second experiment replicated the findings and helped to support the argument that the context of playing along with recorded music in the classroom has a high probability of positively affecting mental representation of music.